Dear Translation and Interpreting Agency,
At 7:00 this morning your office called me for a last minute “pop up” assignment for this afternoon or as you called it “an emergency” because another interpreter had backed out of a deposition. I was headed to a prove up hearing and I called you back as soon as I had parked at the courthouse. I quickly told you I would be available and to please send me the notice by email and I’d confirm once I got out of court. Your scheduler said she had my email address. Your company name rang a bell, and over the next hour, it gnawed at me, sounding more like a warning siren for a tornado.
As soon as I got back to my office I looked your name up in my files and sure enough you were there, in bright, bold red lettering – on my Restricted Agency List. And there was the report on you. We had history a few years back. You were scheduling me for work but you weren’t paying me on time, and you didn’t pay my late fees when you paid three months late. Yes, you had received, acknowledged, and agreed to my rates and terms in writing. You did not reply to and erased emails, then you avoided phone calls. I called colleagues in your state and learned you had several complaints from interpreters there. When I used a different phone, I finally spoke to the owner, and she was condescending and rude. She dismissed my request for payment saying,” she would pay me when she got around to it.”
I won’t work for you. I’m turning you down. You don’t respect subcontractors. We do the work you count on us to do and we count on you to pay us fairly and honestly. We are the fuel that keeps your business running. We expect you to manage your business professionally too.
Most probably that is the same reason the other interpreter backed out. And this is the consequence of your incompetence. You will hear “No” from the professional, licensed, and certified interpreters either because you disrespected them or they heard about your practices. You will have to send unskilled bilinguals on jobs because they will and not know how to expect to be treated right but they won’t know how to perform professionally either. Witnesses will lose the right to have their testimony heard due to the errors, which should matter above all else. Your clients will see their ineptitude and you will lose more and more clients.
Now, in the spirit of generosity, if you want to stay in this business, I will tell you how you can turn this around. You know who you have treated unfairly. Contact them and acknowledge your mistakes, apologize and make amends. Pay the full, agreed to payments that you owe. Be the better person and include interest. Prove that you know how to treat us respectfully. Then you can rejoin the ranks of the agencies for whom we gladly give our best efforts.
The Freelance Interpreter.